It’s common knowledge that the landscape of college sports has potentially changed forever with the allowance of student athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness. Athletes in the higher revenue generating sports are expected to command incredible sums of money, and universities have also implemented group deals in conjunction with professional marketing agencies.
This individual income stream is something that has gained support throughout the last few decades, and the NCAA was much maligned for making millions of dollars off of athletes who were not seeing a dime of that profit. Now that athletes have the ability to obtain a piece of the lucrative pie, will that change their reasoning about jumping to the pros?
The NBA G-League was always going to be a huge thorn in the NCAA’s side if NIL rules weren’t changed. Two of the brightest stars in the 2020 class, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, opted to play in the G League directly from high school. They would get the benefit of exposure to professional level talent and coaching, while being paid for their efforts. When they made that decision, the option to be compensated in college wasn’t available.
But now that it is, it’ll be fascinating to see whether elite athletes decide to stay in college longer than they would have prior, or in the case of certain sports like basketball and baseball, decide to go to college at all. The logic behind departing the collegiate ranks for the pros was always to secure a large payday as soon as possible, before an injury or a circumstance to reduce an athlete’s draft stock took hold. While either scenario could still happen, there’s a bit of an insurance deductible built in with the change in NIL rules.
With players in big time college sports set to make hundreds of thousands, if not millions or dollars before they ever reach the pros, the rush to get there might not be as frantic. In theory, student athletes can take their time academically and emotionally growing in college, whether that takes two years, three years, or all four. Their bank accounts might not blow up the same away as they would in a professional league, but a six or seven figure annual payday for athletes should be more enough of a cushion to focus on the things that truly matter.